Most readers do it at some point – stray from their typical books to something a little different. Maybe it’s a book cover that’s made you take the leap. Possibly it was just the interesting display in the store. Or maybe it’s the hype around a certain book that causes you to stray from your normal reading genre.
Whatever the reason, most of us have done it.
Some of those samples from a different genre or a different author become wow moments of incredible exploration. Some become a moment of scampering back to what feels like home, scarred for life. But whatever the outcome, you should be proud that you took the chance, because the world of literature is all about exploration and the diverse voices that fill the shelves.
That leap, and the wandering that followed, is how I found the genre of m/m.
I didn’t start reading until my thirties. Until then, I was mostly submerged in thick medical textbooks in college (which I enjoyed), and before that, Shakespeare, but only because the Ontario high school curriculum demanded the classics at the time… and so fitting, our English teacher looked like King Henry the VIII.
But what that educational experience did for me was a few things:
- It made reading feel like work
- It made it clear to me that reading was for educational purposes only
- It made me hate reading Shakespeare’s twisted babble
- It made me feel that reading for enjoyment was not only a waste of time, but impossible for me – oh, the teen i feeleth, writing yond anon. Translated into something sensible - oh, the pain I feel, writing that now.
Overall, my exposure to the written word told me that I wasn’t a reader and never would be.
I now realize how wrong I was.
I just had to find the right moment in my life, and the right material, to pick up what others hungered after, to see what can be gained by reading for pleasure alone, and to see that the day needed more hours, that I needed another book, and that I needed to hear another distinct voice.
I stood resolutely in the erotic romance section of the bookstore, but when I looked down to the bottom shelves, I found m/m, and I realized that there was so much more undiscovered.
I prefer love in my reading and writing… actually, I prefer hot sex with a solid story, which is probably why some of the classics missed the mark for me. And medical texts simply fall short on making sex sound fantastic – something I will cover in another blog. But I prefer all types of love in what I read and write, and I don’t want to be forced to put down one book and pick up another to get it.
There is more than one way to express love, and there are as many colours to love as there are colours in the spectrum. Love is not privately owned. Love is not exclusive. And recipe books always have more than one dish between their covers, so why can’t a romance?
A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a dash of something else… and then taste the spoon with an open mind.
You might find what you never expected to, and it could be the flavour of the other side of love that you’ve been missing.
Oh, and BTW – I have come to love Shakespeare on stage. So, the written page and the dismemberment and evisceration of it in English class hasn’t ruined me completely.